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Marital Histories and Economic Well-Being

  • Julie Zissimopoulos


  • Benjamin Karney


  • Amy Rauer


Using panel data from the Health and Retirement Study the authors analyze the impact of a lifetime of marriage events on wealth levels near retirement. They find that unmarried widowed and divorced men and remarried men with more than one past marital disruption have lower housing wealth than continuously married men and women. Both financial and housing wealth are lower for the same marital categories of women. Each year spent married increases wealth by 4 percent. Observable differences in lifetime earnings, pension and Social Security wealth are not enough to explain the large differences in wealth accumulation across marital groups.

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Paper provided by RAND Corporation Publications Department in its series Working Papers with number 645.

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Length: 44 pages
Date of creation: Nov 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ran:wpaper:645
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  1. Martin Browning & Annamaria Lusardi, 1996. "Household Saving: Micro Theories and Micro Facts," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 34(4), pages 1797-1855, December.
  2. Lillard, L.A. & Waite, L.J., 1996. "Marital Disruption and Mortality," Papers 96-01, RAND - Reprint Series.
  3. Steven F. Venti & David A. Wise, 2000. "Choice, Chance, and Wealth Dispersion at Retirement," NBER Working Papers 7521, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Glenn R. Hubbard & Jonathan Skinner & Stephen P. Zeldes, . "Precautionary Saving and Social Insurance," Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research Working Papers 03-95, Wharton School Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research.
  5. Annamaria Lusardi & Olivia S. Mitchell, 2006. "Baby Boomer Retirement Security: The Roles of Planning, Financial Literacy, and Housing Wealth," CeRP Working Papers 54, Center for Research on Pensions and Welfare Policies, Turin (Italy).
  6. Shelly Lundberg & Elaina Rose, 1999. "The Effect of Sons and Daughters on Men's Labor Supply and Wages," Working Papers 0033, University of Washington, Department of Economics.
  7. Lupton, J. & Smith, J.P., 1999. "Marriage, Assets, and Savings," Papers 99-12, RAND - Labor and Population Program.
  8. Dynan, Karen E, 1993. "How Prudent Are Consumers?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(6), pages 1104-13, December.
  9. Karen E. Dynan, 1993. "How prudent are consumers?," Working Paper Series / Economic Activity Section 135, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  10. David Neumark & Sanders D. Korenman, 1988. "Does marriage really make men more productive?," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 29, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  11. David S. Loughran & Julie Zissimopoulos, 2007. "Why Wait? The Effect of Marriage and Childbearing on the Wages of Men and Women," Working Papers 482-1, RAND Corporation Publications Department.
  12. Mincer, Jacob, 1978. "Family Migration Decisions," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 86(5), pages 749-73, October.
  13. James P. Smith, 2004. "Poverty and the Family," Labor and Demography 0403014, EconWPA.
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